The holidays at Pickwick in the restaurant business is like two a day football under Tucker; only the strong survive. The masses ascend on this tiny fishing town in the form tourist seeking the American dream of enjoying water and all of its dream-like comforts.

We love the water, whether it be the ocean, lake, river or creek, we flock to it like birds. I find it very interesting we, as humans, are drawn to the water. It is as if we are always longing to go back…there…to the water.

The swimming pool has always been every family’s joy. Whether on vacation or at the club or neighborhood pool, the city pool, the Y, or ones own pool …. Kiddy plastic, or blow up pool, cheap on top of the ground pool or in-ground pool… it has been my joy to swim in each of these and watch my kids do the same. Something about water pushes our happy button.

Anticipation is an experience, that as a kid, was more real and important it seems. I would with great joy, count the days down til we could swim again. Now I count down the days til I can go to the creek and kick back by its cool rushing waters. And loading all the grandkids and kayaks and floating and swimming and eating and making memories.

I now anticipate my trips to Costa Rica, and to my time shares in Florida and my days at Indian Creek. And they arrive, the day I had anticipated and I squeeze as much as I can out of them when I get um…. Jaydays ….

But mostly, like everyone else, I work, and anticipation is all I have to keep me going thru “the jungle of my day”. And that’s a good thing… having anticipation… cause it’s a whole lot like hope. I hope you anticipate a place and time in the near future where you can go and vacate your work and daily routines of labor.

Often the anticipation of a season or a trip or a visit or just a swim is lots better than the actual doing it… and sometimes it’s everything we dreamed of and more.

So either way, a memory is born and bonding has been experienced. I have found our family trips that involved the unexpected adversity or mess up, resulted in a closer bond… even though I prefer the outings that went as anticipated.

I anticipated the big crowd at Pickwick, but it was still overwhelming. Our staff, at the holidays and on Monday night, will have worked 10 to 12 days in a row without an off day and most of them are young. It’s harder mentally on them, and harder physically on Diana and me, cause we are old.

So as I sit on my front porch and gaze into the trees and the morning daylight, I feel the calm after the storm. I look around at the damage done by this storm. Three employees quit, one was fired and one was on vacation during this Memorial Day weekend. A pizza cold top and our main cheese refrigerator went out, the ice makers seem to quit working, the county trash truck ran over my sewer clean out and broke my sewer line, and the water main (the very reason the ice makers shut down) and after repairing the water pressure increased so much we sprang three new leaks under the dishwashing area and one in the bathroom. If this wasn’t enough, we were five people short of a full staff.

Being Barkers, we figured our way through all this and worked daily and nightly, to see our little ship through; a the flagship of how a dining experience can be.

Our staff quickly becomes our friends and I take pride in how hard they try and how fast they move, and how a daunting number of customers seated and waiting to be seated does nothing but make them faster and more focused.

The front of the house is run by Diana and the girls, Ashley and Christen. The back of the house is run by me and my son Nick…”the family”. The core unit that binds the Broken Spoke. From Jack and Peggy’s family, came my family, Judie’s family and LuAnne’s family …. And nearly all family members, direct and extended, have worked at the Spoke or patronized the business.

LuAnne and Steve bring Daddy every Thursday and we share a meal together, mostly in a show of support for me and my family… they won’t let me NOT charge them, most of the time. Judie and Ron and family join us along with Joe and Carol Barker and sons Bart and Reid. This is family, the core unit from which I grow and exist. Because our core is healthy, I can be healthy too. And this is what I see clearly in the calm after the storm… family. This is where my strength and hope lies and this support group lives in me.

I see lots of families splintered at the core and the side effects are vivid and my heart sorrows for them. Because I have been there. I have seen the wedges driven that splinter the core and chip away at it and I have been part of the problem and solutions. I know that my relationship with my Daddy got so bad that I left the country, not to come back.

But in the calm after that perfect storm, that was over a year long, I saw family was all I truly had. But it took the calm and the storm for me to see this rainbow of family and what it means to me.

It was worth all my efforts to remove the wedges I had driven and accept the way things were. I was weakening myself and my family by being unforgiving and mad.

Things still are not perfect but we go on meeting as a family and bond each week. LuAnne is always giving me instructions and encouragement, Daddy is always quietly proud of his son and his restaurant, Judie is usually tired and always joyful and me…. I am working. Working on the American dream and my dream and my creation. But I take time for family.

In the calm after the storm I see clearly… and I am living a dream! And I anticipate the day me and my baby, Lady Di, can lay around the shack in each others arms even more than we do now and the storms will be past and the calm will be ever present.

Ah, anticipation …..

I hope we get to it sooner than later cause a couple of 80 year olds laying around in each other’s arms would hurt both of us … break an arm or something… just sayin’

Remove the wedges, even if you didn’t drive them in from your core, so you can be healthy and your family can heal.

All you got is family and my family is good to me and my mate. My mate is Diana and without her I am not whole, as I found out many years ago. I found my true love in my wife and we had a family all our own and I vow to hold this unit together as long as I am alive and able to forgive and forget.

Thank God for the calm after the storm…. Family.